Opinion: Should Colleges Allow Firearms on Campus?

Opinion: Should Colleges Allow Firearms on Campus?
Firearms Prohibited by mlcastle licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

With several recent shootings, and the push for open carry on campus at schools like Virginia’s Liberty University, colleges are beginning to consider the prospect of allowing firearms on campus. While some universities cannot prevent those with permits from carrying guns in their outdoor, public spaces, they can prohibit students from possessing them. This move is extremely unsafe, however, because it prevents students from being able to protect themselves in emergencies, and violates their second amendment rights.

Everyone knows you can’t bring a knife to a gun fight. When colleges experience deadly shootings, students are left to run or cower in a corner, waiting for the police to arrive with firearms. If students could carry, they would be able to end the situation, and prevent further deaths.

Some argue that the gun would not have been there in the first place had firearms been outlawed in the area, but this is simply not true. If a criminal was willing to murder, why wouldn’t he or she illegally obtain and carry a gun? It is much safer to allow students to protect themselves: it will prevent further unnecessary deaths that result from the longer response time by local police.

This is not to say, however, that any and all should carry firearms. Students can and should be required, just like any other citizen, to obtain a permit to carry. Convicted felons and the mentally ill are already prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns, and this would not change. Furthermore, any student who doesn’t feel comfortable would never be required to carry. The option would be there, though, for anyone to be able to protect him or herself in an emergency.

Another reason colleges cannot prohibit carry on campus is because it violates the students’ second amendment right to bear arms. Students are constantly forced to battle administrators over freedom of speech and press on campus — why are we so willing to give away our freedom to carry? America is a nation of individualism and choices, and it should stay that way.

Finally, we as a nation need to realize that firearms are not the problem: people are. If we want to eliminate gun violence, we need to work to rid our society of violence as a whole. By providing counseling and anger outlets to students and others, and creating a community that harbors unity and acceptance, we can begin to minimize violence and, subsequently, decrease the fear of firearms that many students wrongfully feel.

In the meantime, there are several measures that schools have already taken to maximize student safety in the event of a shooting. Most universities implement an emergency alert system that can be used to spread the news of an event quickly to students. Administration or campus police may use this to lock down campus, requiring everyone to remain in their dorms, with doors locked until further notice. Other schools may also require students to evacuate to a safe room on campus, like a gymnasium or auditorium, instead of dormitories. It is important to be aware of your university’s procedures for a campus shooting: it could save your life.

Students on college campuses have rights just as everyone else does to possess guns and use them to protect themselves. If we allow college students this ability, it will create a better, safer campus environment for our students to grow in.